Question: Whats the best way to take your Unicycle with you when travelling by air?
I’ve taken my Nimbus 24" to Spain a couple of times now (I have to work in other countries - normally within Europe - for a few weeks at a time), I dis-assembled it and it just fitted in my large Samsonite suitcase.
It has survived both times perfectly, but you can’t put that much else in the suitcase before getting to the 20kg weight limit… and budget airlines charge a lot for excess baggage.
Does anyone have any experience taking a Uni as ‘Sporting Equipment’. One budget airline will accept this kind of luggage for £10 per way which sounds a bargain, but officially the item travels as ‘standby’, is subject to hold space and of course the terrors of the baggage handlers.
There’s another thread going around in relation to taking your uni travelling. I think it’s my thread about camping.
I’m taking my 20" to Turkey next week. I’m afraid it’s going to have to go in my suitcase and sod my clothes!
(Actually I bought a new case so that I can fit it in, we don’t usually have a problem with excess bagage, but I guess the 24" is significantly heavier. … I know, buy a 20" for use when travelling!)
Anyhow, I hope you are well and enjoy your travelling.
When I took my 20 to Germany last year I just took the pedals off and checked it in as baggage without wrapping it in anything. It was included in my luggage allowance. You get a few raised eyebrows, but no one seemed too bothered by it. I was flying BA though, budget airlines might be more fussy.
I have taken uni’s across the “pond” a couple of times:
1 - to Seattle/Unicon 2002, Coker and 24" muni with pedals and saddles removed, tyres deflated, strapped and locked together but with no other outside packaging. The airline were happy to take it as part of standard luggage but due to the size of the Coker it was handled as oversize. There was a a changeover in Copenhagen both outbound and return.
Outbound, no problems. Return, the frame on the Coker was dented and bent but still rideable.
2 - to Calgary 2003 and Vancouver 2004, 24" muni with frame, saddle, pedals removed and all placed in a wheel transporting bag. Again this had to go oversize but with no problems at either check-in, retrieval or any damage during the handling process.
Being long-haul flights, I had no problems with weight. But I travel light anyway and would probably got away with taking the 24" muni on budget flight.
My advice would be to purchase a cycle-wheel bag, available from some bke shops or on the www These bags can come with separate sections for each bke wheel, so if you do travel light and with some clever packing, you could possibly get away with just taking the wheel-bag containing your other stuff as well.
Use the search to find highly detailed instructions on how I pack my unicycles. For flying in and around the U.S., remember not to have any tools or pedals in your carry-on bags.
Some airlines will see a “bicycle” wheel and want to charge you a bike fee. Which, if they do, comes along with a waiver of liability, which basically says that even though you’re paying extra, we accept no responsibility for what happens to that piece of luggage.
For this reason, I prefer to put my unicycles in luggage that looks like luggage. The hard part is finding the luggage, but I have my source. For normal suitases, a 20" wheel is usuallly all you can fit. A 24" wheel will only fit in the largest of suitcases, and you’ll be amazed how much space it takes up in there.
So I use these cheap Asian bags that have a flat bottom with wheels on it, and soft, extendable sides that allow the bag to be pretty tall when fully extended. Normally I only have to unzip one of the two extensions. I flew to NAUCC in July with a 29er, my 20" Freestyle, and a little 12" uni, all in the one bag. Plus my tools, shoes, safety gear, and a few other things. Unfortunately the bag was overweight…
In that past, U.S. carriers were less concerned about weight. Now most have a 50 lb (prox. 25kg) limit per bag. We have learned to weigh all bags before going to the airport, so we can re-arrange stuff without stress. The easiest way to do this is to just stand on the scale holding the bag, and then subtract your own weight.
I simply rode it to the gate and they checked it at the gate. This has never failed for me yet but I’ve always tried to have a backup plan just in case.
Once, in the SLC airport I was told by airport security that I could not take it through the security checkpoint without a permit. I went back to the ticket counter where a ticket agent granted me the permit and I was able to ride it through the airport.
It still makes me smile when I recall what he put in the “reason” section:
Be careful what you say when checking in. Many air lines have a large fee for transporting bicycles. (Eg $100). If you mention the word unicycle when asked whats in a box they hear the cycle bit and wack on the fee, even though your uni may be packaged up nice and small.
When I fly internationally with unicycles I tend to pack them in a cut down bike box. Your local cycle shop will probably be happy to give you a cardboard bike box (most bicycles are shipped in large cardboard boxes so they usually have a few lying around). With a few minutes work you can cut the box down to the right size to snugly fit two decent sized unicycles.
The advantages of a customized cardboard box are:
-they are easier to get hold of than a large piece of luggage
-they cost nothing
-they are fairly light
-you aren’t too concerned if the box gets damaged as it is easy to replace.
-you can make the box as small as possible to fit your uni to avoid oversize luggage fees.
The disadvantage is airlines tend to question anything packed in a cardboard box. The answer to the question “what’s in the box?” should never mention the word cycle.
The safe answer is “circus equipment”. Also make sure you colour over or otherwise conceal anything that hints of the word cycle on your cardboard box.
When packing a uni into a box I usually just whip off the pedals and seat. I smaller box can be used if you also take off the frame. Never remove the cranks as they help prevent your axle putting a hole in a bag or box.
I found the largest canvess bag at the swap meet.I can fit everything in there. Take off the seat is a must. Don’t have to take the pedels off but I do.I just pad the uni in the middle with all my safety gear and stuff. It is a MUni – I’m more rough on it then the airline crew.
For my 24" muni, I use the largest “rolling” duffel bag that Samsonite / American Tourister make. With pedals and seat removed, it fits just fine, with lots of room left over for my helmet, pads, riding cloths. I usually use my elbow pads or leg armor underneath to protect crank at the hub.
When asked what’s in there (about 25% of the time so far), I answer “sports equipment” (thanks for the tip J. Foss). Have never had an issue, and the rollers make for quicker transport through the airport.
I’m hoping one day Nathan might share the “pattern” he uses to produce those COOL 36" coker wheel bags. I want one of those so I’m not trying to check my giant U-Turn cardboard box in at the airport.
I had this same question. After seeing a guy bring his long board (which was extremely long), that you could probably bring it as carry on, as for bike fees, would there be one for carry on? Because my Monty could fit in the overhead compartment, I’m sure if you avoid the mean looking airport personnal you’ll be fine with the fees. With a Coker, I think that the fees would be pretty much impossible to get around.
Measure the diameter of your rim. You’ll have to take the tire off. Length of your frame shouldn’t be a problem. It will be crowded if you want to put 2 weeks worth of “regular” luggage in there, especially when you include a squished up tire. I highly recommend getting something larger.
That particular bag looks pretty flimsy (the reviews concur) but you get the idea. See if you can find burlier versions (they’re hard to fine online!). They usually only last for a few trips per bag, but I used to pay only about $25 per bag. Worth it! Also don’t expect to use those little wheels as wheels, they generally suck. Beware of the bottom edges dragging on the ground; best to carry it or strap it to a piece of luggage with real wheels.
On a normal flight to a unicycle convention, I’ve packed my 24 x 3" MUni, a 24" Track uni and a 20" Freestyle uni, with tools, spares and safety gear. That’s with one extension open. That might have been overweight, but it definitely fits.
Put the wheel (or tire, if separated out) in a plastic bag. It slides in and out much easier, and acts as a dirt barrier
Use ziploc bags for small parts
If you remove your frame from the wheel, stick the bottom of the frame in a shoe and tie them together, or strap your leg armor around the frame to protect the legs from being squeezed or dented
For a trip to Munich this weekend. Technically, it measures 64", 2 inches larger than max, but I’m betting that’s close enough. It should be big enough to drop my trials uni in there and still pack a couple of suits for the trade show I’m going to. And if it isn’t, amazon will take it back, free:-)
Its not exactly cheap, but its protective, and I intend to take a uni on more trips in the future. I’ll post a pic when I get it.
That looks like a great piece of luggage for wheels up to 20", with plenty of extra room inside! And the 64" is not likely to be an issue. Because it looks like “normal” luggage, most baggage handlers probably wouldn’t give it a second look. Except maybe in Germany.
Hard-sided luggage is kind of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it offers protection from all angles. On the other hand, its lack of flexibility makes it vulnerable to log-jams in luggage conveyor systems and other situations where large forces get applied to it. In those situations it can take a worse beating than softer bags. In my experience, hard-sided luggage doesn’t last longer than soft-sided. Probably the best in terms of survival is a semi-rigid setup.
The most important component in quality luggage is build quality and materials. When they’re made well they will survive many, many more trips than cheap luggage. Unlike the one I linked to in my post above.
John. I took a look at that case mentioned above. It’s oversized. I am not sure I want to trust that the airline won’t tack on $100 each way for oversized luggage. I read a review that said someone returned it because of this.